A Love Affair with a Classic Little Ship

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Occasionally, my daughter will ask me the question, "if you had all the money in the world, what would be the first thing you would buy?"

Impossible question really, because I will never have all the money in the world, but it's a fun thing to contemplate, and dream about.

And my answer is always the same.

I would buy a classic New Zealand yacht.

My grandfather - one of the true gentlemen of the old generation - was an Airforce man. But he loved the sea and he loved boats. Growing up in Marlborough gave us access to the Marlborough Sounds, and when Grandad retired from the Airforce he took on a job looking after the Sounds property of the Todd family, which included their beautiful classic New Zealand yacht, The Viking.

Photo Source
The Todd's generously allowed us to stay at their place many times, and we have so many happy family memories tied up with that little Bay, including jaunts out to the Viking, where my father would row around the carved Viking figurehead, a Norse-looking man with flowing gold locks, and pretend that it talked to us.

When we were older, we'd swim out to her as she lay at anchor, lazily turning on the tide, and we'd clamber up her sides and sunbathe on the decks. The sound of the sea lapping against a boat is one of my most favourite sounds in the world. It instantly transports me back to those halcyon childhood days, and warm, sunny afternoons out on the Viking.
Grandad and Sir Bryan would go off for days at a time on sailing trips, across the Cook Strait, along the coasts of New Zealand. And so it was on the Viking and in the Marlborough Sounds that my love of the sea and old ships was cultivated.

Photo Source
So, when my ship comes in, it's an old sailing ship for me.
Here is a much-loved photo of my Grandad; Roy Spencer, MBE, on the Viking.

When the Viking left the Marlborough Sounds and was on loan to the Maritime Museum in Auckland, we went to see her one day, while Nana and Grandad were staying with us. We laughed at the "Do Not Touch" signs on the sides of her, remembering those days in the Bay when we played on her. We had tea and drinks down in the cabin with her owners and got to see the amazing work they had done inside of  refitting her walnut-wood-lined walls to the rich gold tones of Kauri.
She is a beautiful little ship and unforgettable.

In all my life I have never owned a boat, until this last summer when we bought a little sailing ship for our children.

And it's not the Viking by any stretch of the imagination, but it has a sail, and there's nothing like the romance of a sail and watching a little boat cut smoothly through the sea. And at least it's a beginning in my goal towards a bigger little ship.

I haven't seen the Viking again for over fifteen years. But everytime I pass a marina in Auckland, I am always looking for her.

photo credit: jotter2 via photopin cc
photo credit: RichKnowles via photopin cc


Elizabeth said...

I LOVE your writing Rachel, you have a beautiful way with words :-)! No wonder you have written and published a book or two!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful memories, Rach. I love sharing these special blog posts with my children and reliving the happy memories through your writing. We had an idyllic childhood and have much to be thankful for! We didn't know what we had!!! Penny

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